Over at Equitable Growth: Before fees, the performance of Ken Griffin's Citadel is almost surely above the market's risk/return line. After fees and since 2007, I doubt it. After fees, investors in Ken Griffin's Citadel hedge fund appear have lagged the S&P500's 6%/year nominal return since its peak in 2007. And it is not as though Griffin is selling a greater degree of safety than the S&P500 offers: Citadel came very, very close to blowing up in 2008, and the most I can say is that I do not know what its true beta is. READ MOAR
Over at Equitable Growth: Trying to get the issues straight in my mind here...
>email@example.com: Dear Mr. Delong: I hope this note finds you well. In light of recent activity in Congress related to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, I write to invite you to join an off-the-record conference call with XXXXXX senior staff for an update on the current state of play. The call is scheduled for today, Tuesday, April 21 at 3:45 p.m. ET
Dear Mr. White:
Thank you very much for your invitation. I will try. I will have to move a couple of things--and I am not the most important person involved in them...
But if you want to know where my concerns are, let me start by quoting something that I wrote before http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/03/the-debate-over-the-trans-pacific-partnership.html: READ MOAR
...are coming around to the realization that the economy is screwing them, too. There was a moment when a lot of them (we're talking ones at elite outlets, not your random small town paper) thought they'd done everything right, would become celebrities, and get Tom Friedman's speaking fees. The economy sure was working for them, and screw everybody else. But then, well, that didn't quite happen.
...to understanding economic and financial processes. The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed challenged much conventional wisdom and academic orthodoxy with respect both to theory and policy. New economic thinking was needed and that need has been extended and amplified through the succeeding years. But: what constitutes 'new economic thinking?'
Over at Equitable Growth: I forgot to note Ben Zipperer's post on the labor market and the BLS Employment Report last Friday. And if I had, I would have stressed what the employment numbers tell us about how extraordinarily far to go we have before even semi-complete recovery.
Over at Equitable Growth: There have long been a bunch of hypotheses about why the American "middle class" feels "stressed" in spite of constant real incomes and what appears to me increased utility over time as more expenditure shifts toward information goods where consumer surplus is a higher multiple of factor cost:
Americans are used to seeing real incomes improve at 2%/year--doubling every generation--and they have not been getting that. Living little better than your predecessors a generation ago is an unpleasant shock.
The things that have been becoming cheaper are not seen as things key to your "middle class" status, while the things becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain--a detached house in a good neighborhood with a short commute, health insurance, secure pensions, a good education for your children--are things that it used to be taken for granted a middle-class family could get.
The widening gap between the middle class and the upper class.
Now come Emmons and Noeth with a new and very interesting hypothesis. READ MOAR
Critics... well, probably better to call them "friends" have pointed out to me that last summer I didn't spend enough time linking to Dan Kervick's and Matt Brunig's contributions to the Piketty debate. I remember reading them at the time. And I cannot figure out why I didn't focus more on them--save probably because both seemed to me to be thinking along the lines I was thinking along, I didn't think that there was much new there. But usually I am anxious to promote people saying things that I think are smart and right, so it is a puzzle...
...The bearing of the foregoing theory on the first of these is obvious. But there are also two important respects in which it is relevant to the second.... The removal of very great disparities of wealth and income... through... direct taxation... [is] deterred by... the fear of making skilful evasions too much worth while... of diminishing unduly the motive towards risk-taking, but mainly, I think, by the belief that the growth of capital depends upon the strength of the motive towards individual saving, and that for a large proportion of this growth we are dependent on the savings of the rich out of their superfluity.
...On average, title-loan borrowers pay $1,200 in fees per year on loans averaging $1,000, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent nonprofit based in Philadelphia. The findings come as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans a Thursday public hearing on payday loans...
As I have said, the extraordinary number of payday loan and title loan storefronts in Kansas City MO/KS relative to Portland OR takes me aback every time I go from one to the other. READ MOAR
On March 25, 1911, 146 workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City died when the building in which they worked caught on fire. One of the most important events in American labor history, the Triangle Fire brought attention to the terrible sweatshop conditions of American labor, helped spawn important labor reforms, and became a touchstone for justice advocates over the next century.
Over at Equitable Growth: Each time I go directly from Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas to Portland, Oregon--or from Portland to Kansas City--I am struck by cognitive dissonance.
There is a very large gulf between what I see around me and what, say, the charts people put up on the screen for relative levels of real cost-of-living adjusted income in Kansas City and Portland. The numbers seem to say that the Kansas City MO/KS metropolitan area is about 10% richer than the Portland OR metropolitan area. But my eyes tell me that Portland is about 20% richer than Kansas City.
There are a number of possible resolutions: READ MOAR
Let me thank Matt for doing some very serious and thoughtful digging. The upshot is that I am in an ideal position for a discussant: There are very interesting and important numbers here. These numbers have not been put together in this way before. There is here an author who is wise enough not to believe he has nailed what the numbers mean to the floor. READ MOAR
James Kwak: Who’s a Freeloader?: "Daniel Rodgers’s review [of Williamson et l.]... is titled “‘Moocher Class’ Warfare”...
...Tea Party members like Medicare and Social Security, which they think they have earned through their work, but don’t like perceived freeloaders who live off of other peoples’ work. From the [Williamson et al.] paper (p. 33):
I steal my title from my esteemed ex-roommate and coauthor Robert Waldmann, who writes:
I wonder why wealthy investors vote for Republicans against their self-interest.
Brad DeLong wonders why they favor tight money and austerity against their self-interest....
...TPP... will almost certainly have nothing on currency... It will not make it any easier, and could well make it more difficult, for the United States to address the trade deficit that results from having an over-valued dollar....
J. Bradford DeLong on March 12, 2015 at 09:23 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Information, Economics: Macro, Obama Administration, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: Across the Wide Missouri, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth | Permalink | Comments (27)
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Over at Equitable Growth: It is foolish to debate whether a trade agreement that has not yet been negotiated is a good idea and should be ratified.
Such a debate should properly begin only once there is something to analyze.
But here we are, so...
Robert Allen (2009): Engels's Pause: "Abstract: The paper reviews the macroeconomic data describing the British economy from 1760 to 1913 and shows that it passed through a two stage evolution of inequality...
...In the first half of the 19th century, the real wage stagnated while output per worker expanded. The profit rate doubled and the share of profits in national income expanded at the expense of labour and land. After the middle of the 19th century, real wages began to grow in line with productivity, and the profit rate and factor shares stabilized.... Technical progress was the prime mover behind the industrial revolution. Capital accumulation was a necessary complement. The surge in inequality was intrinsic to the growth process: technical change increased the demand for capital and raised the profit rate and capital’s share. The rise in profits, in turn, sustained the industrial revolution by financing the necessary capital accumulation. After the middle of the 19th century, accumulation had caught up with the requirements of technology and wages rose in line with productivity.
Ah. Crossing my desk today, two intersecting streams. The first is unpacking a stray box and finding in it a copy of NBER Working Paper 12398...
Back in 2004, you see, George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, headed by Greg Mankiw, released its 2004 Economic Report of the President--and immediately found the reporters of Washington enthusiastically throwing a low-tech necktie party, with the Bush CEA as the center of attention. In 2006 Greg and Phil Swagel wrote a good retrospective:
over offshore outsourcing connected with the release of the Economic Report of the President (ERP) in February 2004, examines the differing ways in which economists and non-economists talk about offshore outsourcing, and assesses the empirical evidence on the importance of offshore outsourcing in accounting for the weak labor market from 2001 to 2004...
In their 2004 Economic Report of the President, Greg and company made three points with respect to outsourcing, of which I count two and a half as likely correct:
J. Bradford DeLong on March 10, 2015 at 08:27 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: Inequality, Information: Better Press Corps/Journamalism, Information: Internet, Moral Responsibility, Obama Administration, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: Across the Wide Missouri, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (8)
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Over at Equitable Growth: The extremely estimable (but unfortunately ill: we very much hope that he and his doctors and nurses restore him to his normal superb weblogging and life-enjoying form quickly) Kevin Drum flags what he (correctly) calls "a bit of an odd column today"(http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/yes-education-matters-its-not-answer-growing-income-inequality) from David Brooks.
I cannot be the only one to find that David Brooks's failure to either type links into his pieces nor find it worthwhile to refer to those he is criticizing by name makes his columns hard to decode.
But I think today it is worth the effort. [READ MOAR]
Over at Equitable Growth: Last week I noted my wife Ann Marie's:
...a poster child for the clear articulation and active supervision standards required to determine whether an anticompetitive policy is indeed the policy of a given state, and entitled to immunity…. North Carolina’s Dental Board functioned more as a trade association with super powers granted to it by the state–apparently with an open-ended portfolio of responsibilities relating to dentistry in the state…. The dissent argues the delegation was valid.... READ MOAR
In their essay last fall on the state of economics, Seth Ackerman and Mike Beggs charged that today’s mainstream is irredeemably captured by conservative ideology. The good news is they’re wrong — Piketty’s work testiﬁes to that.
Josh Barro: Why Does Josh Barro Hate the Merely Affluent?: "I called out the ‘merely affluent’...
...people with family incomes of, say, $175,000--for pleading poverty and putting themselves off limits for tax increases. Comments on the article drew a lot of poverty pleas from merely affluent readers. Liz from Utah... Robert from New York... A reader from Queens....
In the past year, the cyclical employment gap for prime-aged males has shrunk and is now smaller than the structural employment gap:
That is all.
Over at Equitable Growth: More often than I would have thought likely, people ask me: "We're thinking of having a conference about economic inequality What should be on the agenda?"
My standard answer makes three points:
Have the conference about not inequality but equitable growth. "Inequality" automatically forces you into a partisan political frame, and you may want to get there at the end of your conference but you probably do not want to start there.
Focus down: you cannot cover the whole topic--you need to pick one or two or three subtopics if you are going to get anywhere.
Have a balance between people who summarize past literatures and people who break new ground.
But often they ask for more: a list of what the topics and issues are. READ MOAR
...between income inequality and r − g and argue that r − g does not seem to have much impact on inequality. However, I do not find these regressions very convincing, for two main reasons.
Over at Project Syndicate: If we as a species can avoid nuclear war; curb those among us who are violent because they are God-maddened, state-maddened, or ethnicity-maddened; properly coordinate global action to reduce global warming from its current intolerable projected path to a tolerable one, adapt to the global warming that occurs, and distribute paying for the costs of that adaptation--well, if we can do all of those things, the human race can have a very bright future indeed.
Over at Equitable Growth: I have always been impressed by vir illustris Mark Hoekstra's regression-discontinuity story of the value of being admitted to U.T. Austin. As the very sharp Jordan Weissman reports:
...AM I DOOMED? Actually, yeah. You might be.... Mark Hoekstra... compared the earnings of white, male students who had barely missed the admissions cut-off for an unnamed public flagship university to those of students who had barely been accepted.... Enrolling at the flagship increased wages by 20 percent... READ MOAR
Socialism has demonstrated its right to victory, not on the pages of Das Kapital, but in an industrial arena comprising a sixth part of the earths surface--not in the language of dialectics, but in the language of steel, cement and electricity. Even if the Soviet Union, as a result of internal difficulties, external blows and the mistakes of leadership, were to collapse--which we firmly hope will not happen--there would remain an earnest of the future this indestructible fact, that thanks solely to a proletarian revolution a backward country has achieved in less than 10 years successes unexampled in history.
Over at Equitable Growth: There are the different agendas at different time frames--say two years, ten years, and fifty years. The smart young whippersnapper Marshall Steinbaum reports on the growing consensus that dealing with the Rise of the Robots is on our fifty-year agenda, and not on our two-year or our ten-year agenda. On the two-year and ten-year agendas, he says, are dealing with and reversing the enormous upward redistribution that has taken place with the rise in the social, political, and economic power of the Overclass. That is:
Underlying this position is a belief, perhaps, that so much of what is produced is so close to a joint Leontief product that something like the marginal product theory of distribution is profoundly unhelpful, and that questions of distribution are overwhelmingly resolved by economic bargaining power conditioned by social mores and politically-chosen institutions. Perhaps there used to be three sources of bargaining power, and thus three sources of durable advantage:
And then, perhaps, over the past generation the third has dropped away, with the coming of globalization and the successful war against private sector unions. The rest are now themselves in flux. And perhaps they have been joined as a source of rent-extraction by those with the ability to tap into the savings produced in this age of the Global Savings Glut...
But I think that the sources of this enormous upward redistribution have not yet been properly sorted-out.
...when it comes to the consequences of rapid technological change on the U.S. workforce... techno-optimist[s].. [and] the pessimistic view that better technology substitutes for workers and... harms them. A debate between the two... was probably what the organizers intended for an event last week hosted by The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project entitled ‘The Future of Work in the Age of the Machine.’... Yet the debate last week actually highlighted a third position. If either the techno-optimists or the techno-pessimists are right, then we should see a major positive impact on worker productivity. But it just isn’t there... [even though] we definitely see worker displacement, stagnant earnings, a failing job ladder, rising inequality at the top, ‘over-education’ (workers taking jobs for which they’re historically overqualified), and declining rates of employment-to-population and household and small business formation.... Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers made this point forcefully....
So if not technology, what explains labor displacement?... Market practices and public policies that favor managers over workers, and those who make their living by owning capital over those who make their living by earning wages. That choice lurks behind the decline in full employment as a priority... a shift in the legal standards, mores, and incentives of corporate management in favor of the interests of [equity] owners over other stakeholders... the abandonment of long-term productive investment as a priority in public budgeting.... In 1988, Summers wrote an article fleshing out the idea that the division of rents between corporate stakeholders is what drives rising inequality. More than a quarter century later, he could not have been more prescient. The good news is that if such a profound shift played out over only three or four decades, then it’s reversible. That wouldn’t be true if it were the result of the technological trends detailed in [Brynjolffson and McAfee's] ‘The Second Machine Age.’... We know what needs to be done and how to do it, because we’ve done it before...
...hysteria surrounding the idea is that a huge wave of automation, technology and skills have lead to a huge structural change in the economy since 2010. The implicit argument here is that robots and machines have both made traditional demand-side policies irrelevant or naïve, and been a major driver of wage stagnation and inequality. Though not the most pernicious story that gained prominence as the recovery remained sluggish in 2010 to 2011, it gained important foothold among elite discussion.
Over at Equitable Growth: I see that the vir illustris Lawrence Mishel, our neighbor here in the Great Center-Left Atrium Building at 1333 H St. N.W., has had his ire awakened by the femina clarissima Melissa Kearney and her forthcoming Hamilton Project event on robots tomorrow: http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/future_of_work_in_machine_age/...
...The book documents that the rate of return on private capital r exceeds the economy’s growth rate g.... He reasons that if r > g, the wealth of the capitalist class will grow faster than the incomes of workers, leading to an “endless inegalitarian spiral.”... Piketty’s logic... will seem strange to any economist trained in the neoclassical theory of economic growth.... r > g should be familiar... as a steady-state condition as long as the economy does not save... an excessive amount of capital... [a] dynamically inefficient situation, all generations can be made better off by reducing the economy’s saving rate...
Over at Equitable Growth: Something has bothered me ever since I read the highly-eminent and highly-esteemed David Autor's "Polanyi's Paradox and the Shape of Employment Growth":
David Autor (2014): Polanyi’s Paradox and the Shape of Employment Growth: "[The] human tasks that have proved most amenable to computerization...
...are those that follow explicit, codifiable procedures.... Tasks that have proved most vexing to automate are those that demand... skills that we understand only tacitly.... The interplay between machine and human comparative advantage allows computers to substitute for workers in performing routine, codifiable tasks while amplifying the comparative advantage of workers in supplying problem solving skills, adaptability, and creativity. Understanding this interplay is central to interpreting and forecasting the changing structure of employment in the U.S. and other industrialized countries.... READ MOAR
Over at Equitable Growth: I have a new list of three articles that bring you up to speed on the current state of the process of assessing and assimilating Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century:
...between r and g is indeed one of the important forces that can explain historical magnitudes and variations in wealth inequality: in particular, it can explain why wealth inequality was so extreme and persistent in pretty much every society up until World War I.... That said, the way in which I perceive the relationship between r > g and wealth inequality is often not well-captured in the discussion that has surrounded my book--even in discussions by research economists.... For example, I do not view r > g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the 20th century, or for forecasting the path of income and wealth inequality in the 21st century. Institutional changes and political shocks--which can be viewed as largely endogenous to the inequality and development process itself.... READ MOAR
The policy debate on the sources, causes and potential solutions to rising income and wealth inequality has intensified in the past few years. Recently, French economist Thomas Piketty’s popular book 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century' garnered much attention and ignited further debate about these issues. Piketty argues that wealth will inevitably become more concentrated under capitalism because the returns to wealth are larger than economic growth rates. The solution he proposes is a coordinated global tax on wealth. The Baker Institute's Tax and Expenditure Policy Program will host two renowned economists to discuss the underlying causes and consequences of inequality, evaluate the empirical evidence of rising inequality, and examine potential solutions for dealing with these problems in the United States.
As prepared for delivery:
J. Bradford DeLong :: U.C. Berkeley, NBER, WCEG, INET :: February 3, 2015 :: http://tinyurl.com/dl20150202a
I am very happy to be here, especially as Texas is a state I get to relatively rarely. I have unusually few relatives in it, you see. When the DeLongs got to Wichita they decided to turn north rather than south and wound up in DeKalb County, Illinois. And those who did end up here decamped to North Carolina, leaving me with none until last year when my cousin Annie and her husband moved to Dallas. The last time my wife and I spent any extended time in Texas was on our honeymoon, when we were washed out of our campsite in a swamp near the Louisiana border by a midnight mid-June thunderstorm, so we bypassed Galveston and Houston and then spent a week and a half going Austin-San Antonio-Permian Basin-El Paso.
The feel-good thing to read this week is my 2005 Social Security Reform statement:
In my view, a Social Security reform plan needs to clear five hurdles before it is worth considering:
You have already heard from Robert Shiller on how private accounts as proposed by the Bush administration are not a good deal for beneficiaries... higher returns are not worth the risk... the extra purchasing power gained in those states of the world when stocks do well does not match the losses beneficiaries see in states of the world when stocks do not do so well.... I don't have more than quibbles with Shiller....
I am actually, in at least one of my hearts-of-hearts, the heart-of-hears of an Eisenhower Republican, a believer in private accounts. I agree with Marty Feldstein that the... equity premium... over the past half-century tells us that the stock market has... not... mobiliz[ed] the risk-bearing capacity of the American economy... that... steps... to broaden and deepen stock ownership promise... significant improvements in the ability of America's business to raise capital.... I agree with ... Kent Smetters that it is a scandal and an outrage that the poorest half of Americans have no easy... low-fee way of investing in stocks.
But the Bush plan's private accounts are not private accounts that anybody should endorse. The 3%-plus-inflation clawback rate is just too high given likely future asset returns... READ MOAR
What I most want to know right now is who was in on the confidence game at the beginning, and who is in on the confidence game right now.
It has become pretty clear to me that Sam Brownback at the beginning was not running the state-income-tax-cuts-will-produce-a-huge-boom confidence game, but was rather a mark in the confidence game.
But what is he right now?
Over at Equitable Growth: The American economy has done badly over the past generation or so.
This is not to say other economies have done better: The American economy remains among the richest in the world. However, given the economic lead America had a generation ago, it really ought to still be well ahead of the North Atlantic pack, and it no longer is.
Moreover, across most of the income distribution Americans today are little if any better off than their predecessors back in 1979, at the business-cycle peak in the Jimmy Carter presidency. Yes, today Americans have remarkable access to incredibly cheap electronic toys. But those are a small part of expenditure, and the costs of securing the standard indicia of middle-class life--a home in a safe neighborhood with good schools and a short commute, college for the children, assurance that a major illness will not lead to bankruptcy, a secure and reasonably-sized pension--have all become more costly relative to incomes. This shift is astonishing: For 150 years before 1979 Americans had confidently expected that each generation would live roughly twice as well in a material sense as its predecessor, not find itself struggling against the current to stay in the same place. READ MOAR
Trying to construct the Just City in the Sewer of Dionysios II:
...and you urge me to aid your cause so far as I can in word and deed. My answer is that, if you have the same opinion and desire as he had, I consent to aid your cause; but if not, I shall think more than once about it.
Now what his purpose and desire was, I can inform you from no mere conjecture but from positive knowledge. For when I made my first visit to Sicily, being then about forty years old, Dion was of the same age as Hipparinos is now, and the opinion which he then formed was that which he always retained, I mean the belief that the Syracusans ought to be free and governed by the best laws. So it is no matter for surprise if some God should make Hipparinos adopt the same opinion as Dion about forms of government. But it is well worth while that you should all, old as well as young, hear the way in which this opinion was formed, and I will attempt to give you an account of it from the beginning. For the present is a suitable opportunity.
J. Bradford DeLong on January 16, 2015 at 09:05 AM in Books, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: Across the Wide Missouri, Streams: Economics, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (1)
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One of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's standard applause lines is that he wants Kansas: "to be less like California, and more like Texas!" The problem is that Texas has:
Kansas as a whole has none of these--although Wichita has the third...
Now that the price of oil has crashed in half, having lots of oil--which Wichita has and the rest of Kansas does not--is not a near-term plus. It is, rather, a cause of painful structural adjustment.
And a Texas with the hostility to hispanics we see in today's Kansas Republican Party, plus harsh Kansas-quality winters, does not seem to be an attractive place...
By contrast, the big thing not to like about California right now seems to be its rampant NIMBY-ism--and the fact that that makes real estate fortunes for so many influential current Californians, and so makes them happy
65F, bright and sunny, 11:00 AM as of a Sunday morning...
During our 2.7 miles around the Lafayette Reservoir we met :
525 people is a very substantial proportion of the 25,000 population of Lafayette, CA.
But where were the missing men?
138 of them.
They were not at work. They were not preparing brunch. They were not even watching tv sports. So what were they doing?
Question: "Given how low global interest rates are, it seems hard to believe that returns on investment over the next 8 to 10 years can be good. So, isn’t some of the recent increase in wealth effectively ‘stealing from the future’ as capitalization values responded to the low rates of return available from sovereign bonds?"
This is, I think, the crucial flaw in the current “Fed raises inequality!” literature...
It is also at the root of the most powerful critique of Piketty, which is, I think, Matt Rognlie’s:
It is just not credible for me to highlight a comment that starts "this is an unusually excellent post" as a DeLong Smackdown, is it? Alas, because it is one, a good one...
...Also the question is a very good question (and your concern about the power of the wand a good concern).
@Ezra Abrams the question was specifically about increasing "growth".... There is evidence that higher taxes on the top 0.1% would cause higher GDP growth https://ideas.repec.org/p/rtv/ceisrp/281.html but it isn't very strong....
I find it interesting that the word "equipment" doesn't appear on your list. I wonder why.
The problem I have with such questions--with such "magic wands"--is that I am never sure just how powerful they are supposed to be.
Let me propose three, all of which are small scale in terms of policies but larger scale in that in order to become durable policies they do require, as John Adams said, changes "in the hearts and minds of our countrymen [and women]...":
(1) A Federal Reserve committed to nominal GDP level targeting, with a trend growth rate in nominal GDP of 7%/year: In my view the question of the origin of "general gluts"--demand-side business cycles characterized by (i) insufficient demand for pretty much every currently-produced good and service, and (ii) positively- rather than negatively-correlated fluctuations relative to trend of prices and employment--was decisively and correctly answered by John Stuart Mill back in 1829. A general glut arises when if there is full employment workers, savers, and managers wish to hold more in the way of liquid cash and readily-collateralizable safe savings vehicles than the economy is supplying. READ MOAR
But the past generation has seen a third industrial revolution, a worthy information-age successor to the first of steam, iron, cotton, and machines and to the second of internal combustion, electricity, steel, and chemicals. Not everyone, but almost everyone in the North Atlantic and many and soon most in the world, can now if they wish have a smartphone--and so gain cheap access to the universe of human knowledge and entertainment to a degree that was far beyond the reach of all but the richest of a generation ago.
...or in some other way degrades performance. I’ve been wary... in part because it appeals so much to my general leanings.... I continue to be skeptical, in part because there have been some pretty bad crises with lousy recoveries in countries that don’t have a lot of inequality. Consider, in particular, the post-1990 Swedish slump.... Just one piece of evidence. But I’m still having trouble with this one.